While epilepsy in dogs can be controlled by prescribed drugs, it has been reported that monitoring a dog’s diet can also help to reduce the amount of epileptic fits. This month we caught up with Anne Morley, from the Canine Epilepsy Support Group, to understand more about this condition and how, as pet owners, we can be aware of the signs.
“Often there is no obvious cause for the seizures in dogs and this can be linked to genetics…”
Epilespsy in Dogs
As in humans, epilepsy in dogs is a brain disorder that causes your four-legged friend to have a sudden fit. Often there is no obvious cause for the seizures in dogs and this can be linked to genetics. The most common age for dogs to start with epilepsy is said to be between one and five years old but the Canine Epilepsy Support Group have helped puppies from five weeks old to dogs of over fourteen years, so epilepsy can start at any age. Some breeds of dogs can be more prone to having epilepsy than others, such as: Beagles, Border Collies, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Italian Spinones and mixed breeds such as Cockerpoos.
What happens during an epileptic seizure in dogs?
During an epileptic seizure, your furry friend will look dazed and unsteady and can often collapse onto their side, making jittery movements. While this is happening, they will be unconscious and unresponsive and can often lose control of their bladder or bowel. Most epileptic seizures in dogs last between one and three minutes. If a seizure lasts for more than five minutes, then veterinary attention is needed.
Triggers of your dog’s epilepsy can be unpredictable, often occurring when your four-legged friend is relaxed, sleeping or just waking up. Only very occasionally is the dog’s seizure linked to exercise. After a fit is over, your dog may still be slightly dazed for a while; however, some dogs may get back on their paws and be back to their normal selves quite quickly.
“It is important to stay as calm as you can and remember that your dog is not in pain.”
Make a safe area
If your four-legged friend has an epileptic seizure, remove anything from around them which could be a source of danger. It is important to stay as calm as you can and remember that your dog is not in pain. You should make sure you don’t move your dog or put your fingers in their mouth.
Communicating with your vet
If you suspect that your dog has had an epileptic fit, contact your vet immediately. Your vet will usually only suggest medication if the fits are three weeks apart or less. Then they will be able to prescribe medication for your dog that will help to reduce the number of fits they are having as well as providing guidance on how you can help your dog during the seizure. Following your vet’s instructions is important.
“…it has been reported that monitoring a dog’s diet can also help to reduce the amount of epileptic fits.”
Dietary help for dog seizures
While epilepsy in dogs can be controlled by prescribed drugs, it has been reported that monitoring a dog’s diet can also help to reduce the amount of epileptic fits. Choosing a more suitable diet that contains wholesome ingredients and essential fatty acids, while avoiding artificial preservatives, chemicals, colours and flavours, can have positive benefits.
Laughing Dog recipe endorsed by the Canine Epilepsy Support Group
Our Laughing Dog Traditional Mixer has been endorsed by the Canine Epilepsy Support Group as it has shown to have helped their four-legged friends with epilepsy. Please note, we provide this recipe in a Puppy & Small Dog version too.
Anne Morley, who joined the Canine Epilepsy Support Group in 1991 and became Hon. Secretary in 1998, says:
“Epilepsy in dogs is very frightening at the beginning but there is a lot which can be done to help, apart from conventional medication, or alongside medication.
“We treat each dog as an individual and work out a diet for each dog which will help reduce the epilepsy and deal with any food sensitivities the dog may have.
“We helped one dog change from 6-7 fits every day, to a 14 week fitting interval, just by changing food, adding in a particular herbal tea and changing the home situation slightly. There is so much which can help, and we are at the end of the phone 24/7 to give help and support.”
At Laughing Dog, we always recommend that if you have any concerns that your dog has epilepsy or how your dog is coping with epilepsy you must seek advice from your veterinary practitioner.